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Bites : La Cocina de la Casa Blanca

March 23, 1995|CHARLES PERRY

Three Presidents have been Californians, but they could hardly have eaten more differently. Herbert Hoover set the most elaborate and expensive table in White House history; Nixon was a perennial dieter and fond of Chinese food. And the Reagans ate like '80s Californians--pita bread, sorbets and Italian dishes such as osso buco, saltimbocca and gnocchi.

Getting Your Second Wind

A series of bicycle rides is set for May, ranging from 2K to 100K: big fun for cyclists. On top of that, the Beano HeartRides are, as they say, "serious fun," because they're intended to 1) raise money for the American Heart Assn. from sponsors and 2) promote the idea of exercise and a diet emphasizing vegetables, grains and beans in a healthy lifestyle. The rides are organized by Beano, the gas-preventing digestive aid.

In the Los Angeles area, there will be HeartRides in Palmdale on May 6 (including an impressive 40K off-road event with a 3,800-foot elevation followed by five miles downhill) and Whittier on May 13 (including walking and running events as well as cycling). Interested cyclists and others can sign up by calling (800) AHA-USA1 (242-8721 for the digit-minded).

'Cue and A

Now that spring is officially here, people are starting to haul out their barbecues again--and having questions again. Weber, the nation's largest barbecue maker, operates a toll-free barbecuing hot-line with live operators from 6 a.m to 4 p.m. PST on weekdays; at other hours, there are taped answers to common barbecuing questions. The number is (800) 474-5568 (GRILLOUT, more or less).

Weber reports that two out of three callers are women, but whether this is because men know more about grilling or women are more willing to ask for help is a matter of debate.

Beans Are His Bag

Local legume-lover Tom Chasuk is back with a new book, "The Bean Gourmet Presents the Greatest Little Bean Cookbook" (Hearst Books). In his agreeably monomaniacal way, he touts the familiar virtues of the bean: high in fiber and protein, low in price and fat. The book's 75 recipes aren't very demanding (particularly the ones based on canned beans); the instructions rarely run more than four or five sentences. Some are familiar ideas, but dishes such as bean lasagna, black bean potstickers and fava-balls break a little new ground.

Chasuk claims that the more you eat beans, the more your stomach gets used to them. The more it, ah, doesn't have a problem with them. Remains at peace, if you catch our drift.

Maybe. Meanwhile, we're, well, bursting to try the "temptation sensations," as Chasuk calls his 10 bean-based desserts. Particularly those mint-y bean chocolate squares and the flaming black bean jubilee. Available in book stores.

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